Film review: Blue Jasmine

Unlike some actual film critics, I think that Blue Jasmine by Woody Allen is not a film about the 1% and 99%, even though we see two strata of society banging into each other. I believe the film is primarily about deceit. In looking at a film or play, we might ask what force or … Read more

Review: Camouflage for the Neighborhood

Unlike most books of poetry, which are collections of separate poems ignoring each other like subway commuters, Lorene Delany-Ullman’s Camouflage for the Neighborhood is better understood, in fact only understood, as a single coherent work, the whole being far greater than the sum of its parts. Collectively the 71 prose poems (or paragraphs) form a … Read more

Review: Inside Llewyn Davis

In keeping with Ethan and Joel Coen’s dark whimsy, and their ambivalent fascination with losers and failures, Inside Llewyn Davis is a sort of reverse-image, anti-heroic Odyssey. Like Odysseus, who laboriously island-hops homeward after total war against Troy, the homeless and broke Davis moves uncomfortably from couch to couch as charitable acquaintances let him crash … Read more

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden is another casualty, in the broadest sense of that word, of whatever Washington is now calling what used to be called the War on Terror, or the Long War. Like American soldiers and Afghan suicide bombers, Edward Snowden knew the personal risks and accepted them to serve what he considered a higher purpose. … Read more

Theatre review: God of Carnage

The Napa Playhouse just completed its run of Yasmina Reza’s 2009 play, God of Carnage, and they did very well. God of Carnage might have been aptly entitled A Delicate Balance, if Edward Albee had not already used that for another play with a similar thematic interest. Albee’s play uneasily reveals the fragile, delicate balance … Read more

The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry

For poets, one of the best prophylactics against staleness and provincialism is a nice, plump anthology of poems translated from another culture. We welcome The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry and The Oxford Book of Latin American Poetry in part for easing our access to a remarkably wide range of poetry arguably more … Read more

Michael Casey’s Check Points poetry

Michael Casey has once again offered his readers a collection of amusing, deceptively simple poems about daily life as a military policeman during the Viet Nam War, in Check Points, published by Gary Metras’s Adastra Press, 2011. Unlike many contemporary books of poetry (books that gather unrelated poems, loaded with enough filler to remind me … Read more

Theatre Review: O’Neill’s The Early Plays

Richard Maxwell’s February 2012 production of The Early Plays (three Eugene O’Neill one-acts) at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, in cooperation with The Wooster Group, seems to me baffling and unsuccessful. The plays themselves are very weak and very dated. They lack effective central themes, relying instead on the novelty (a century ago) of a … Read more

Theatre Review: Krapp’s Last Tape

By far the best theatre I have seen in years is Krapp’s Last Tape, performed by John Hurt in a production created by the Gate Theatre in Dublin and brought to Washington, D.C., and the Brooklyn Academy of Music for a brief run in November and December of 2011. John Hurt in the Gate production … Read more

Theatre Review: Julius Caesar

Briefly playing in New York as part of the 2011 Lincoln Center Festival, The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Julius Caesar is an energetic version that emphasizes mise en scene rather than the text, and thus emphasizes the outsize political consequences of political power struggles. Personally, I prefer emphasis on language to spectacle, but spectacle … Read more